Is this the new American living room?

20May08

As PSFK’s Piers Fawkes writes, designers at Herman Miller think this is going to be the new American living room:

Piers writes, “The designers think that the growing use of computers in leisure time means that people will less and less watch TV (or at least in the same way they spent the second half of the 20th century)… They say that somewhere between office and kitchen table people’s lifework happens – bills are paid, vacations are planned, music downloaded and purchases made.” The desk was designed to “sit in a living room as much as a home office… so that at the end of the day your laptop can be put aside and you can enjoy a family meal off it.”

Growing up, a desk (however old, clunky and poorly designed) with a computer (however functional or not) was basically always a part of our family living room. On a typical night at home during high school, when I wasn’t running off for play rehearsal, I would have dinner with my family, play Jeopardy with my dad, work on my homework in my bedroom and then hop on the computer in our living room and wait for our e n d l e s s l y s l o w dial-up to connect so I could talk to my friends on AIM.

In college, however, my night at home goes like this: me and my three other roommates grab a quick dinner that we eat in our living room as we sit hunched over our laptops signing on to Facebook, Skype, Twitter, MySpace, Flickr and Perez Hilton (Don’t judge; What twentysomething female college student doesn’t read Perez?) before starting in on our homework. We might have the TV on in the background as we surf the Web, but it definitely doesn’t have our full attention and we definitely don’t feel a strong delineation between lounging in our living room and studying in our work space. The notion of a home office or designated work space seems silly to us (even if we had the space in our apartment to have one). Me and my roomates all have fully functional private desks in our rooms to do our work and socializing online, but instead we huddle together in our living room.

The social Web increasingly becomes a part of the most social room in our homes and apartments.

However, I don’t think that we’ve evolved from wanting to lounge in traditional living room furniture to wanting to sit in stiff (however modern) office furniture. Instead, I think we’ll see more living room/home office setups look like this:

It also makes me wonder if, as digital natives enter the workforce, will we push our employers to make our cubicles feel more and more like our living room or social spaces?

First image from PSKF; Second image from Lapdawg.

-Amanda Mooney

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6 Responses to “Is this the new American living room?”

  1. Damn! I don’t care about the furniture. I’ll take what’s sitting on the furniture:-)

  2. I don’t know… I think I might like that stark stuffy furniture. Tho, there is definitely something to be said about having the comfy couch. Many of the web 2.0 start-ups have a central table and sit around that to do their work. I guess in a way, that’s similar situation.

    I think that going forward, the “hip” companies will have common spaces for people to gather and work on laptops or other portable computers and socialize while getting their work done. In a way, that’s a new sort of collaboration, non-formal teaming etc.

  3. 3 Will

    This is the way it should be!

  4. It look minimalist furniture.

  5. As always, your post is insightful and wonderfully written thanks. Keep up the good work I love your site! ;-)


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